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Travis - Part 4: Your Life Burns Faster by Lavro
Part 4: Your Life Burns Faster
Travis rummaged deeply through his closet. He was looking for his ‘nice’ flannel shirt, the one with the deep reds and subtle hints of purple. The one that was slightly too tight, that pressed against his pectoral muscles and nicely accented his shoulders. The one with no holes in it. The one that Blair might like to see him in. The work week passed as quickly as the temperature seemed to be rising, and the guys mostly left him alone about cutting his hair. That is, except for Nick, who would gesture at Travis as if he were holding clippers and running them over his own head. A threat that Travis pretended didn’t bother him.
The week was over. He was invited by the guys to go camping from Friday night into Saturday, but he declined, enjoying rest and liberation until it was time to meet Blair on Sunday. He could not help but feel slightly paranoid that he wouldn’t show up. Still, Travis put on his best scent, shaved his face again, fastened the buttons of his shirt and rolled up the sleeves. With his hair tucked back and his hat on, Travis was ready.
The hour-long drive into town felt like an eternity. The neon sign of the familiar gay bar welcomed him back. He entered with a dry mouth and hesitant steps, flattening his expression to not appear eager. The place was not very busy. He didn’t recognize the music playing from the dance area. The bar still looked sticky. The middle-aged bartender gave a welcoming smile that drew Travis back to the empty bar. He sat exactly where he had the week before.
"I remember you, honey" the bartender said with a twangy accent. "You want the same ole beer? Or maybe something a little outside of your comfort zone?" He smiled at Travis.
"I, uh-," Travis shrugged. "Sure, let’s do something different. Your pick."
The man set to work, pouring something from a pitcher that was filled with fruit. He added a spritz, gave it a good stir. Travis looked over his shoulder hoping to see Blair but didn’t. After a minute a glass was plopped in front of him with a deep red drink in it.
"That’s my special Sangria. Don’t drink it too fast. It’s not the piss water you were drinking last time." The bartender winked and then left him alone.
Travis was at the bottom of his glass, trying to use his straw to pluck out a strawberry slice when he heard the door open. He immediately felt his temperature rise. Blair was standing in the doorway and made immediate eye contact. His jeans were torn in several places, and he was wearing a nearly tattered tank top with some devilish creatures on it, and a logo that Travis couldn’t read. As he walked up to the bar, Travis delighted in his slender arms, covered in tattoos, pale skin shining from beneath shades of black and gray ink.
"You actually came," Blair said with a bright smile, even sharper by his snake-bite piercings and long jawline.
"I said I would, didn’t I?" Travis was trying to play cool.
Travis noticed that Blair had redyed the pink ends of his spikey hair. He also had shaved his face, and re-shaved the sides of his head, leaving the back to flare out. Travis looked closely. It was even shorter that what they did to Derek. It looked smooth. Shaved to skin with a razor, like his face. He found it very attractive.
"You didn’t have to get all prettied up just for me," Travis teased as Blair took a seat.
"Why not?" Blair looked at his nearly empty glass. "Sangria? After one week out of the closet?" That made Travis blush. Blair held up two fingers to the bartender, signaling for two more Sangrias. "Speaking of prettied up, look at you. You shaved your face, and" Blair pulled back Travis’ hat, his fingers running up the sides of his head, "what happened here? Are you trying to copy me?"
"What? No," Travis pulled his hat back down, hoping his hair didn’t look quite as extreme as Blair’s. "I was shaving my face for the first time, because you suggested it, and I messed it up. But honestly, I like how it looks."
"I like it too. You did that for me? I wonder what else I can get you to do then." The two smiled at each other as their imaginations pondered the thought.
Travis paced himself through his drinks as the small talk moved into more intimate, personal stories. Blair was complex, often talking about his connection to music and art in ways that Travis had never considered. Travis didn’t quite understand what Blair meant by "self-expression" or "counterculture." He simply liked the way he said things with confidence and clarity. He felt silly telling Blair about his troubles, namely his aggressive father and coyotes attacking their goats. It felt so estranged from Blair’s lived reality, expressing their vast differences.
"You still want to come back to my place, right? My bestie is there with some friends is all." Blair finally asked after they had shared a couple drinks and a lot of stories, the bar becoming more and more crowded.
"I thought I might, yeah. Only if I can have your number this time," Travis responded with confidence.
"Totally," Blair smiled again. "On the walk over?"
Travis made sure to put his credit card forward quickly enough to cover their tab, and within a moment they were walking towards the door. With Blair in the lead, someone was walking in as they were walking out, someone that sent a shock through Travis. He was caught completely off guard. It was someone in a tight, solid white t-shirt and light blue jeans, with a very short buzzcut, and red hair. It was Nick. What is he doing here? Travis caught Nick’s eyes, but they did not meet. Nick focused intently on Blair, not realizing his friend was right behind him. Even as Blair passed, Nick’s gaze followed him out the door, allowing Travis to walk right past him and out onto the sidewalk. He did not look back. He had no idea if Nick had seen him. He walked on quickly, all of his muscles tensed, the feeling of needles all over his skin.
"Did you see that guy?" Blair asked once they had left the bar safely behind them, walking towards his apartment.
"With the red hair?" Travis feigned stupidity. "What about him?"
"He comes out here every so often. He’s tried to get with me a few times, but I really can’t stand his attitude."
Travis was stupefied. Nick is gay, he thought in disbelief. And he has tried to get with Blair! For some reason, Travis found comfort in knowing that Blair didn’t like Nick back. He was aggressive, Travis knew, but that was part of why he liked him. Travis had to leave his bewilderment to exchange numbers with Blair, before climbing a flight of stairs to his apartment. Inside, three young guys sat on an old sofa watching a horror movie, all dressed in black, with a variety of piercings. The guy in the center had a short mohawk dyed red. The sides were shaved smooth too, like Blairs, making Travis imagine that they had cut each other’s hair. The mohawked man looked to them as they entered, just waving with a coy smile. Blair waved back with a glint of mischief in his eyes before dragging Travis by his hand into his bedroom. The guy with the mohawk shouted "yee-haw" as the door closed.
Blair moved quickly putting on music through a blue-tooth speaker. The sound was harsh. Metal music to be sure, though it was never anything Travis would listen to or recognize. Still, it was a dynamic rhythm that moves the boys towards one another, passionately pressing their faces and bodies together in heated passion. Blair used his nimble fingers to unfasten the buttons of Travis’ shirt, Blair’s own tank top easily flying off his body. His hat came off, letting his long blonde hair enhance his sexual presence. Travis was not timid in letting his hand glide over Blair’s smooth muscles, his lean stomach. His other had irresistibly fingered the long hairs at Blair’s neck, then to the smooth skin on the side of his head. Travis delighted in the sensation, even as the music grew more intense, Blair’s lips piercings inside of Travis’ mouth.
Within a moment they were on the unmade bed full of lazy boy smells. Travis found them to be sweet and seductive. Blair continued to take full control, moving Travis where he wanted, his body, his hands, his mouth. Travis was under the spell, willingly moving to Blair’s physical commands, yielding to his dominant demeanor. The song changed. Another started to play. Another that Travis did not recognize but allowed it to entrance his body. He liked the attitude of it all.
As their bodies interacted, the cues in the song rang inside Travis’ head: "Your life burns faster! Obey your Master! Master!." The word repeated, loudly, "master." It played like a rhythm in his brain, moving along with their bodies, the way he wanted to feel Blair’s power. "Master! Master!" It was involuntary when Travis whispered the word to Blair, "master."
"What did you call me?" Blair stopped, smiling suggestively.
"I didn’t mean to," Travis said in surprise. "The song."
"Are you sure you didn’t mean it?" Blair had a suggestive tone.
"No. I’m not sure." Travis admitted.
"I’ve already noticed you are good at doing what you are told."
"Anything you want," Travis mustered, before his mouth was occupied again.
After a couple of hours of physical interaction, Travis and Blair continued to lay in bed, talking, and simply enjoying each other’s company. They showered together, delicately shampooing one another, washing out all of the product in Blair’s pink hair, careful not to fade the pink dye.
"You’re a kinky boy it seems," Blair chided as he rubbed conditioner through Travis’ hair.
"I suppose so, yeah. I don’t know."
"You like giving up control. Did you like shaving your face for me too?"
"I feel weird saying yes," Travis admitted.
"I have a thing for image control," Blair was not shy to say. "Not gonna lie, it turned me on when I noticed you did it. Even the way you shaved the sides too."
"I didn’t originally cut them this high. The guys who work our farm all did buzzcuts, and they tried to talk me into it. He took one swipe but that was it. So, I had to fix it."
"You chickened out?"
"I think you’d look hot with a buzzcut," Blair said in a very similar way he mentioned Travis shaving his beard.
"Please don’t say that to me," Travis winced as he tilted his head back to rinse the conditioner. "I find it hard to resist you."
"Noted. So, you’d do it if I really wanted you to?" Blair and Travis locked eyes. Travis didn’t have to say anything for Blair to see his physical excitement. "Wow, I like this."
"How about," they switched places so Travis could condition Blair’s hair now, "you let me take you to my neck of the woods. We can go fishing? Or mudding?"
"Nice change of subject, slick. Mudding?! I’ve never done that, but I’d love to see you in your element. Sure. I’m in. It’s a date."
A date. Travis smiled.
The next morning, Travis made the long drive home. Slightly earlier this time as to not upset his dad. It was still dark when he arrived home, giving himself plenty of time to get ready for the workday. The guys arrived as the sun began to rise. Derek’s hair was barely grown back to stubble, and Nick was clearly hung over, and Travis knew how and why. Nick made no indication that he had seen Travis the night before at the gay bar. Travis and Blair would text when they could, but the guys were very busy and always under the scrutinous eyes of his dad. The long day in the heat ended, and the workday was done when Nick approached Travis in front of the guys.
"One more chance Travis," he said with warning in his tone. "We can bring the clippers tomorrow and you can stick to your word. What do you say?"
Travis was sidelined. Everything was different now. He knew Nick was gay. Blair mentioned that he wanted Travis to buzz his hair too, and he wanted to make Blair happy. He wanted to obey his wishes. They all just started at him while he contemplated.
"No. Just get over it already, ok?" He felt a tinge of regret saying it.
Nick spit on the ground and walked to his truck.
Travis had showered, settled in, and threw on a pair of gym shorts and a gray hoodie. He stood in his mirror and tied his hair back, the shaved sides revealed, the back hanging loose. He liked the look. He looked at himself, deciding firmly that he enjoyed his long hair and would not buzz it short. It just wasn’t going to happen, and he had to get it out of his head and stand firm. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of frightened goats. The coyotes! Travis ran to the front door, grabbed the shotgun, and ran outside barefoot.
He moved quickly over gravel and dirt, over the dark grassy hill, and down to the goats. They were moving around restlessly, but there weren’t any predators inside the pen. Travis walked slowly around the perimeter, his gun pointed, deeper into the darkness of the field. As he came around the corner post and advanced slightly further, looking for glaring eyes or scurrying coyotes, he noticed a much larger silhouette instead: A truck.
Almost instantly the headlight blasted him in the eyes, disorienting him, unsettling the goats again. Before he could recover his sight, he was tackled to the ground onto his stomach, his shotgun falling to the grass in front of him. He felt his arm wrenched back, a sharp plastic edge pulling tight along his wrists. He struggled, but the person was on top of him, his weight and strength were too great from Travis’ vulnerable position. He realized that his hands were zip-tied behind his back.
"Nice manbun, gay boy." It was Nick’s voice.
"Nick? Are you insane?!" Travis was furious. He had felt in legitimate danger.
"I gave you the chance to do this the easy way," Nick said as he flipped Travis onto his back, his tail bone meeting his bound hands uncomfortably. "You don’t get to just buzz my head and then walk away."
Travis found himself reminded of the night before, on his back, straddled by Blair, under his control. But now, he felt a tinge of fear. The fear intensified when Nick pulled a pair of scissors from his belt, opening and closing them in a threatening manner. He did not hesitate to grab Travis by his bun, pulling it hard so that Travis’ chin went to his chest.
"Nick! Don’t you f**king dare!" Travis was furious.
Nick didn’t listen. The sharp edges of the scissors opened and closed on Travis’ hair, meeting it with force and fury. Travis tried to thrash but couldn’t. It would take several snips to cut through his thick hair, so he had to try to get free.
"I will tell them where you were last night!" Travis blurted out. "I’ll tell them all that you’re gay! Do you hear me?!" Travis was panting in rage.
Nick stopped cold. "What did you say?"
"I saw you last night. I was there!"
"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Nick lied.
"If you don’t get the f**ck off of me, everyone will know what I’m talking about."
"You… you’re gay?"
Nick did as he was told, plopping down firmly in the grass in disbelief. Travis sat up, offering his bound wrists to Nick, who used the scissors to free him from the zip-tie. Travis rose. Picked up his shotgun, and stormed off, leaving Nick dazed in the headlights of his truck.
Travis rushed into the house, avoiding his dad who was asleep on the couch. He went right to the mirror and pulled the tie off of his bun. Long locks of his blond hair came loose in his fingers. He stared furiously at the large patch of hair that was cut close to his scalp. More strands of his hair fell onto his shoulder and to the floor. Travis punched the sink counter in rage and fury.